Good Roads and Disconnection

One of the most common questions I am asked is “how could you have been so stupid/gullible/crazy etc to have been drawn into scientology?”

Children tend to share the belief systems of their parents until they reach an age where they have enough exposure to the world and experience to compare it to other belief systems and that is what happened to me. By the time I escaped the enclosed environment (story to come) I had been drawn into the mindset that does not allow you to look outside that one belief system, even if you are not ‘active’ in it.

Scientology, as other cults do, appeals to good hearted people on the whole, the ones who want to make a difference to the world. (There will also be a minority who can sense the possibility of personal power in an environment where people do as they are told.) However a person gets interested, be it via a book or a “personality test” or word of mouth, what they are seeing is only the outer layer. The smiles, the “wins” that are shared when a person completes a service (mandatory) is seductive and also appeals to anyone with a quest for personal spiritual freedom. There are many layers to the subject that are not apparent at first and by the time you begin to see them you are well trained either look the other way or be very cautious in pointing out things that don’t seem right.

Scientology gained it’s foothold before the internet and social media made it possible for stories to be told freely. It is also notorious for keeping secrets and not allowing anything negative to be known about it and for attacking critics or anyone who spoke out about the abuses they witnessed. There has been a vast amount written about this, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here, check the links on the right.

Paul Haggis in The New Yorker recently,

I once asked Haggis about the future of his relationship with Scientology. “These people have long memories,” he told me. “My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.” He thought for a moment, then said, “I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.

Good Roads Fair Weather” is the mechanism used to stop real communication.  It means only talking about or changing the conversation to subjects that are light and non controversial.  As a scientologist is only allowed to talk about their own emotional issues and challenges within the scientology system – auditing or ethics – it becomes second nature to disguise real feelings and to pretend on the surface that all is well while ignoring any elephants who happen to be in the room. Most of my adult life was spent behind a Good Roads front and that in itself can take a terrible toll on a person.

Scientologists are also not allowed to talk to or associate anyone who has been declared a “Suppressive Person” (SP). Follow the link to find an explanation of this. This is the ultimate penalty for perceived crimes, such as posting on a ‘critic’ Message Board or speaking to media and an “SP” can be subjected to “Fair Game”.

The reason I bring this up is that I have apparently been “declared” an “SP” for speaking out, some time in the last year or so. Of course I have never been directly told this or shown a copy of my “Declare” for fear I would publish it on the net and expose it’s idiotic libel so I have only been informed on a via. Therefore any of my family who are still active in scientology and wish to do their next service have to “disconnect” from me – and have done so.

Why would they do that? Simply because they truly believe their very eternal salvation is at risk if they do not. Scientology makes you quite selfish in that regard, the concept is disguised as ‘saving the planet’  and when you are immersed within it you totally believe it is the only way. Any threat to have that ‘only way’ denied to you is the worst thing imaginable; so family and friends who disagree sadly stand little hope against the ‘certainty’ of future lifetimes of living on this ‘prison planet’ without the “Bridge to Total Freedom”.

Disconnection is one of the very worst crimes of scientology. I have experienced it from both sides, so I am qualified to talk of it. When you disconnect you can justify it to yourself as “I have a right not to talk to that person” which is actually true. However that truth is a twisted one and the bottom line is that it’s “him/her or me”, and ‘me’ usually wins. Even heartfelt personal connections don’t stand a chance when you feel your personal scientology salvation is threatened and thousands and thousands of familes have been ripped apart by this action.

Disconnection can be silent, you quietly drift away and deliberately lose contact, and this is what I did when I was a full blown scientologist. I apologise to the people I did that to, I can only say I really didn’t understand normal personal connections beyond the scientology definitions of them. It can also be something like “I won’t talk to you or have any contact because you are attacking my religion.” There is no true discussion, any conversations on the subject before the final curtain consist of demands that any criticism is stopped immediately, retractions of any critical comments are made and that you basically beg forgiveness and return to the fold to do whatever is demanded of you. This is called “handling”.

Once you become aware of the enormity of the crimes and abuses and experience the relief of being able to talk and think freely, there is no going back. At the same time it can also take a long time to become aware of the intense and subtle indoctrination that affects many aspects of our lives  and this is where internet discussion can help a lot.

This subject brings up a lot of emotions for me – I HATE DISCONNECTION.

Click here for some disconnection stories.

Talking the Talk

The first thing a group with cult tendencies does is introduce a new and exclusive ‘language’ to describe concepts that are limited to that group alone. Scientology had a massive ‘dictionary’ to explain their jargon, which includes numerous abbreviations, totally new words and new meanings for normal everyday English words.

This new language gives a sense of inclusion, of being part of an elite group that can communicate certain concepts only to each other. It breeds a sense of safety and familiarity within the group and widens the divide to the ‘outside world’.  After learning hundreds of new words, it in fact becomes a second language.

The first scientology word I learned was “ARC”. This is a made up word from the initials of the words Affinity-Reality-Communication. Without going into lengthy explanations, the idea is that you need to have all three concepts in alignment to lead to ‘understanding’. The term “ARC” is a very small word for a very large concept. It includes all sorts of emotions and substitutes for normal words such as liking, connection, love, empathy etc. The opposite of “ARC” is “ARC Break” (ARCX in the super duper abbreviation requirements) and this means any upset, disagreement, dislike and so on.

Two little words then become a sort of shortcut to describe the vast array of real human emotions – they are squished and squashed into a box labelled “ARC” and equated with “understanding”.

I learnt about “ARC” at the age of 14, just when a young mind is starting to awaken to the wider boundaries of life. I was so excited while doing my first course (Personal Efficiency or PE Course) and felt that I had a head start on my poor peers left studying boring subjects at school, they would never be able to grasp the incredible truth that was being revealed to me.  This is the point where you begin to really learn the ‘language’ and the start of the gradual disconnection from a normal life.

Talking the Talk of scientology (or any other cult) is a passport to a life of cognitive dissonance – a state of mind where you hold conflicting ideas simultaneously. When you are told something is “true” and your continued acceptance by the group depends on your acceptance of that “truth” –  yet you feel that something is ‘not right’ somehow (i.e. you may have conflicting experience) – it is a very uncomfortable place to be. The easiest solution, given that you feel the benefits of such a group outweigh any other consideration, is simply to accept it. If you do this long enough then you can actually get to a place where you barely use logic and alternate viewpoints in your thinking as it is all supplied for you in a ready-made package. Accepting that package leads you to accepting a life as defined by the cult leader and it happens in such a way that you barely know it has happened.

Much of the jargon stops you thinking, and is designed that way. A great article on this is Thought Stopping by Jeff Hawkins and his follow-up article Thought Stopping on Steroids.

One of the hardest and also most rewarding things an ex scientologist can do is to re-learn normal vocabulary. I have been often told that  “it is not necessary, as the jargon explains concepts that are exclusive to scientology”. Well that’s the whole point! Take any one of those exclusive concepts and write it out in plain English, it is an exercise that is guaranteed to start to shift some of the automatic thinking that using the jargon brings. Best to start with the smaller and more common words, such as “theta”, “ARC”, “Comm”, “2D” and so on.  I will add that it’s not easy to do, at first, though well worth the effort.

It is such a wonderful thing to be able to truly make your own mind up about a subject without having to double think and translate into scientologese. Wonderful.